Michigan State is coming off the best season in school history, at least since Richard Nixon was serving as President of the United States. After knocking off Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game and taking down Pac-12 champion Stanford in the Rose Bowl, the Spartans are now embracing life on top of the Big Ten. This has been a process years in the making under head coach Mark Dantonio, and well deserved. In light of recent developments in Columbus, Michigan State is now entering a brand new season as one of the more popular favorites in the Big Ten.
So how does a program that has at times stumbled when things were going well continue to break that mold and prove they are worthy of the preseason hype? For Dantonio, the responsibility falls on his seniors on the roster.
“I think it is senior leadership, the culture you develop in your group,” Dantonio said Tuesday during the weekly Big Ten coaches conference call. Michigan State returns eight seniors in the starting line-up, along with 10 juniors. Michigan State returns 46 lettermen this fall.
“We’re going to find out how we handle the ultimate success of last year,” Dantonio said. “[At] the same time our enthusiasm has been good, our mindset has been good.”
Michigan State is starting the season with the highest preseason AP ranking since opening the 1967 season ranked third in the nation. The Spartans also have the highest preseason ranking in the coaches poll since 1991, when the poll was first administered. The Spartans open the 2014 season Friday night with the first game against an FCS opponent in school history, Jacksonville State.
Michigan State travels to Oregon in week two.